BASW and ADCS call for less blame in serious case reviews

    Social workers and directors of children’s services have called for serious case reviews to use a no-blame “systems approach” as developed by the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

    It comes as the British Association of Social Workers and Association of Directors of Children’s Services have responded to the government’s consultation on revising Chapter 8 of Working Together to Safeguard Children: Serious Case Reviews.

    Colin Green, director of children’s services at Coventry City Council and author of the ADCS response, said such an approach would increase flexibility, promote learning and help engage frontline practitioners.

    The ADCS criticised the government for not taking the opportunity to deliver a “fundamental improvement” in SCRs which, Green argued, are not effective at promoting learning and alienate social workers by focusing on apportioning responsibility and blame.

    David Barnes, BASW policy officer who worked on the consultation response, agreed the Scie approach would be welcomed but said he suspected it would depend on Ofsted’s view of it.

    Green was also concerned that Ofsted had too much influence in the matter pointing out the government proposed that executive summaries of SCR’s should occur only after Ofsted had evaluated them.

    “This gives Ofsted a particular role in the publication of SCRs which seems out of scope of the role of a regulator,” he added.

    BASW also proposed that an experienced frontline social worker should be on every SCR panel.

    Barnes said: “Usually it’s the case that frontline pracitioners originally involved are now managers who have been out of practice for a few years. Frontline workers bring up-to-date knowledge and are also better than managers at challenging other agencies on their decision-making, because they are doing it in child protection conferences.”

    However, he said BASW was currently split over Community Care’s push to publish anonymised SCR’s in full.

    “What we do definitely support is much better executive summaries on SCRs. At the moment they can vary from two pages to 15 and some carry recommendations and others don’t. There needs to be recommendations in all of them and then there needs to be annual accountability on taking that forward.”

    The ADCS said it was against full publication because it posed risks to any child involved in the review.

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